AS THE August Month ends (Women’s Month), it was fitting for women leaders to end it on a high note.
This took place at the Tourism Month media launch on Monday at Cullinan, as minister of Tourism Mamoloko Kubayi- Ngubane, Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Mosupye Morakane and Yoland Kona (CE Gauteng Tourism) took the center stage.
Bracing the chilly weather which is not synonymous with Pretoria, minister Kubayi- Ngubane draped in her isiNdebele regalia opined that due to the unfortunate pandemic of Covid-19 its gonna be business-unusual as tourism has and will continue to be affected by it.
“Strict adherence and regulations to Covid-19 is the new way of life, new normal, and for us to beat this we must all adhere for the sake of safety, especially South Africans as we gradually open the economy. This will in turn boils down to our neighbouring states and international tourists, although we have no idea when the borders would be open for business,” says the minister.
Tourism and Heritage Month held every September, seeks to celebrate our uniqueness as South Africans and to travel our country as part of promoting Domestic Tourism, whose this years’ theme has been coined ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.
“This year’s theme was conceptualised, as a recognition of the important role that tourism plays in the development of rural communities by way of poverty alleviation, employment creation and overall stimulation of economic activities. Yet it is these communities that have suffered the most from the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector. Without tourism, many of these communities have no other form of economic activity that can help them generate income.
Under this theme, we will undertake a set of activities to foster tourism awareness in local communities especially within less visited rural areas of each province,” says the minister.
She said that Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for a little over four months yet it feels as though it has been with us longer. Though we are not oblivious to the health risks that still remain and may be with us for months to come, we are happy that the people of the world and here at home have begun to embrace living in the new normal.
MEC Mosupye Morakane said we must be tourists in our own backyard, since this pandemic continues to grow unabated in communities we live in. Safety and resilience and recovery plans will have to worked on as we prepare to welcome the world back at our shores.
In partnership with other agencies, the MEC indicated they will launch what is called Bontle ke Botho campaign as part of cleaning and get rid of waste littered all over in the province.
As host province for 2020, the CE at Gauteng Tourism Yoland Kona, said they’re ready to welcome thousands of travellers from other provinces since international tourists are not yet permitted to enter the country.
Domestic travelers will as a result of the pandemic will now seek affordable travel packages and Gauteng has the best remedy for that, said Kona.
“The tourism sector is acknowledged internationally to have the ability to create jobs,” said deputy minister Fish Mahlalele.
“It is labour intensive, it is low-skilled, it has that ability to contract as many people as possible and create jobs so that employees are able to sustain themselves, especially young people,” says Mahlalela.
‘Trust is the new rand’, commented South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona.
Its very imperative to understand the business needs of locals as we try and navigate this pandemic, says Ntshona who made his come back to his position after a fractured relationship with some of the board members at SAT, that led to unfortunate suspension.
“In 2018 tourism contributed over R18bn into the coffers of the GDP a good story to tell. Yet fast forward to 2020 it’s a different ball game all together. This means we have to do with what we have to weather the storm because a day tourism losses an estimated R8bn a day. We need that forex,” he told this reporter.
In true soldier he is, Ntshona minced no words as he painfully indicated travel won’t recover as yet but agreed that at least two years from now there will be improvement, as the world is looking at SA on how it manage this pandemic.
Other provinces will host their respective events.
The World Tourism Day (Sept 27) will be celebrated at Dinokeng in Gauteng.
Image SLM (Tourism Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at the 2020 Tourism Month media launch held at Destiny Hotel, Cullinan).